FIRST ON CNN: Huntsman to drop out of the race Monday, source says
January 15th, 2012
09:24 PM ET
9 years ago

FIRST ON CNN: Huntsman to drop out of the race Monday, source says

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina (CNN) - Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman will drop out of the race on Monday and endorse Mitt Romney, a senior official with the former Utah governor's campaign told CNN.

"Gov. Huntsman did not want to stand in the way of the candidate best prepared to beat (President) Barack Obama and turn our economy around. That's Mitt Romney," the campaign official said.

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Another source said Huntsman’s decision was a "family decision."

The family will accompany him to an 11 a.m. event in Myrtle Beach where he's expected to announce the end of his campaign.

"He went to church today and sat down and met with some supporters. A final decision was made after that," the source said, adding that his family spent the last few days discussing the decision.

The former U.S. Ambassador to China was set to compete in South Carolina's primary Saturday, following his third place finish in last week's New Hampshire's primary, a contest in which he almost entirely focused his campaign resources.

Members of his South Carolina campaign staff appeared to be surprised by the news.

John Rainey, an influential businessman and longtime Republican fundraiser in the Palmetto State, as well as a member of Huntsman’s South Carolina finance team, said he was completely flat-footed when he received a phone call from one of Huntsman's aides Sunday night.

“I got the call, and his first words were, ‘Are you sitting down?’”

Rainey said he was scheduled to meet with the former Utah governor on Tuesday, along with a dozen or more influential South Carolina Republicans.

He said the same group met recently with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, and they wanted to meet with Huntsman to ask how he saw his path to the 2012 Republican nomination.

Campaigning in South Carolina last week, the former governor barely registered in a poll measuring support in the state, gaining only 1% of backing among likely GOP primary voters, according to a recent American Research Group survey.

Gingrich’s campaign issued a statement after news of Huntsman’s decision broke.

“With Governor Huntsman dropping out, we are one step closer to a bold Reagan conservative winning the GOP nomination,” spokesman R.C. Hammond said.

The announcement comes the same day the former U.S. Ambassador to China scored a big endorsement from South Carolina's largest newspaper, The State.

Huntsman, whose calm demeanor and moderate positions on some issues failed to gain traction among the party's conservative base, launched his presidential campaign on June 21.

- CNN's Shawna Shepherd and Rachel Streitfeld contributed to this report.

Also see:

Group backing Gingrich hits Romney for health care law and Bain record

Romney gives cash to struggling supporter at rally

Romney super PAC pummels Santorum and Gingrich by mail

Tim Scott, the ultimate undecided voter


Filed under: 2012 • Jon Huntsman
soundoff (224 Responses)
  1. Will

    John Huntsman is a moderate Republican and would have been a fine President. Romney is a bit less moderate but will also be a fine President. The rest of the Republican party candidates are lunatic fringe.

    January 16, 2012 03:57 am at 3:57 am |
  2. Tanker-A

    It is a sad day for civil discourse.

    January 16, 2012 03:57 am at 3:57 am |
  3. dougaussie

    you have to ask 'who is presidential material'. Huntsman..no. gingrich...no, i think romney is too much a poster boy for the rich ...so no. its either ron paul, a bit too old. or santorum...hmmm.

    January 16, 2012 03:59 am at 3:59 am |
  4. GODWIN

    Is a step further to the growth of America and the world in general.

    January 16, 2012 04:11 am at 4:11 am |
  5. Bob Ramos

    Huntsman and Paul were the only GOP candidates capable of beating Obama in Nov. Now, only Paul is left. Someone up there must like Obama.

    January 16, 2012 04:14 am at 4:14 am |
  6. jdoe

    In the end, Huntsman the "moderate, thinking" candidates toes the party line, as expected.

    January 16, 2012 04:34 am at 4:34 am |
  7. Bill

    He didn't have enough money to buy the nomination. It's an auction, not an election.

    January 16, 2012 04:45 am at 4:45 am |
  8. Chase

    The only one I would have voted for. Oh well, Obama 2012!

    January 16, 2012 04:46 am at 4:46 am |
  9. USA

    Yea! Romney! Yea Mitt! : )

    January 16, 2012 05:04 am at 5:04 am |
  10. Bigs

    In hindsight, he should have stayed in China. That would have been more productive.

    January 16, 2012 05:06 am at 5:06 am |
  11. Mark

    That would be unfortunate, he is the ONY one on that stage I genuinely like let alone that I might have voted for, the rest are either frauds or nutcases. However, IF it is true, I dont think anyone's surprised, the numbers just were not there for him.

    January 16, 2012 05:09 am at 5:09 am |
  12. GJ

    Well if Mitt Mitt unfortunately stumbles his way into office, hopefully he can appoint this classy, competent man for something.

    January 16, 2012 05:16 am at 5:16 am |
  13. s

    gingrich please go home, you are such a FAT Weasel and a lair. Huntsman was smart not to have anything to do with you.

    January 16, 2012 05:19 am at 5:19 am |
  14. Mi Poo

    Well, there goes the only sane one of the group. Sorry to see him leave the race. Now we're left with circus clowns and asylum escapees.

    January 16, 2012 05:21 am at 5:21 am |
  15. mr deshon

    Wow! I never thought I would live in a country where the guy who makes the most sense in his party would be viewed as the outsider. Huntsman is the ONE candidate who believed in bridging the division in both parties but republicans dont see him as viable because it that. Ask yourself one question America: If we all draw our lines in the sand & stick to our guns, whats going to happen when the proverbial waves come crashing into shore? We are dooming ourselves & our country if we continue this immature way of thinking. We are headed down the dark road of other fallen empires before us.May the Almighty be with us in the cloudy days ahead!

    January 16, 2012 05:27 am at 5:27 am |
  16. Carmen

    Wow...this guy is smart, insightful, and could have had a huge showing in the General if his party had given him half a chance. I don't know what the Republicans are thinking but Huntsman was honestly their best chance at doing well against Obama because he could potentially appeal to a cross-section of voters.

    Maybe it's just me; but it really doesn't seem like the Republicans want to win this year...which is just fine.

    My husband is a Republican, I'm a Democrat, and our son is voting for the first time this year and will register as an Independent. So 2/3 of my household is up for grabs but from the looks of it, we're all leaning toward Obama because the rest of the field is...oh let's see...not really a nice way to put this...they're weak.

    And let’s face it…with all the mess the president has had to put up with over the past few years; he’s doing an exceptional job. A lesser man would have quit already.

    Republicans…you had better get your act together or you’re going to be shuffled right out of Washington.

    January 16, 2012 05:37 am at 5:37 am |
  17. smc

    Well, there goes the GOP's only chance at 2012. Romney is a flip-flopping Obama light. The rest of the GOP slate is unelectable.

    January 16, 2012 05:37 am at 5:37 am |
  18. Bill

    Actors, and scam-artists.. Prepare to be fooled again America. Oh well, On with the Charade!

    January 16, 2012 05:43 am at 5:43 am |
  19. Tom

    And it begins. By the time the Florida primary rolls around Mitt will be the only one on the ballot. So much for violating all the party rules to move up the primary so Florida can have a say in the nomination...

    January 16, 2012 05:45 am at 5:45 am |
  20. Kathy

    Are you kidding me, last week he was bashing him this week he thinks he should back him. WOW talk about flip flopping. Give it a rest Huntsman

    January 16, 2012 05:55 am at 5:55 am |
  21. telitlikeitis

    This is too bad as I think he was the most qualified person running in the whole Republican sideshow. He certainly made the most sense in saying the difference between him and the others was that he puts his country first.

    January 16, 2012 06:01 am at 6:01 am |
  22. ohsnaps

    Apparently mormon headquarters gave him a call 'We need you to drop out of the race and support hair-puppet Rom-o so we can get snag the republican nom and go forward in an election that WE AIN'T GONNA WIN'. I hearby declare all rights and royalties to the term 'hair-puppet'.

    January 16, 2012 06:04 am at 6:04 am |
  23. willie floyd

    IMO he was the most likely one to defeat Pres. Obama. As a supporter of the pres. I guess I should be happy. But, I'm not-it only shows how the Reps. in SC are so biased and totally hung up on social values. Those social values have no effect on the economy or job creation.

    OBAMA/BIDEN 2012

    January 16, 2012 06:07 am at 6:07 am |
  24. jacksays

    This is too bad. As someone else said, he's the only Repub who hasn't acted like a child during the process so far.

    I'm let down that he'll actually endorse Romney whom I don't trust as far as I could throw his campaign bus.

    January 16, 2012 06:12 am at 6:12 am |
  25. Dareth

    Jon,
    As a Democrat, I liked you best of the lot. I am sorry you went for the "political" winner. You should have just dropped out and remained silent.

    January 16, 2012 06:13 am at 6:13 am |
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